Movie Diary 3/27/2018

The Way to the Stars (Anthony Asquith, 1945). A lovely British wartime film, although as a prologue makes clear (the haunted camera prowling through a now-empty RAF base), it was not released until just after the European war had ended. John Mills arrives at the base as an inexperienced pilot, shown the ropes by a veteran (Michael Redgrave), whose marriage to a local hotelkeeper (Rosamund John) is in the offing. The hotel becomes the other main setting for the action; as the years pass, the Americans roll in to take over the base. The script is by Terence Rattigan and Anatole de Grunwald, and it has a lot of Rattigan’s feeling for suppressed emotions – there are some marvelous, rich relationships based almost entirely on that, including the chaste but subliminally passionate friendship between John and a friendly U.S. pilot (Douglass Montgomery, in an unusual and touching performance). Basil Radford and Stanley Holloway provide humor, David Tomlinson has a great scene imitating the way Americans talk (there’s a lot of choice stuff about how the British perceive Americans), and Bonar Colleano gives one of his best performances. Trevor Howard and Jean Simmons have small roles. The US release was titled Johnny in the Clouds.

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